Title & Purpose

Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble:

for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand, Joel 2:1.

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Friday 29 July 2011

Is the Pope the final Antichrist?

Many, without much thought of the teaching of the Scriptures, believe that the Pope is the final Antichrist.

Here are some reasons set out by Benjamin Wills Newton as to why the system of Roman Catholicism is not the Antichrist referred to in Revelation chapter 13.

Attention to the detail of prophetic description is needful, not only for enabling us to form a correct estimate of the future, but also for guarding against that error which has for ages been the bane of truth, viz., the application of prophecy to wrong objects, and thereby the assertion of its accomplishment long before the real subjects of description have arisen. This error will always be fallen into when the specific facts of Scripture are neglected, and we satisfy ourselves with general resemblances merely, and remote analogies. 

The modern habit of referring this chapter to the head of the Papal system is a memorable example of this culpable carelessness of interpretation. I say, modern habit, because during all the darkness of the first thirteen centuries, and even later, we find a series of writers concurrently asserting that this dispensation at its close is to be marked by the development of a secular, despotic, and (as regards the Roman world) universal, system of blasphemous infidelity, and that its head is described in the chapter before us. But in the Protestant conflicts with Popery all this has been forgotten, and prophetic Scripture has been throughout interpreted as if Popery were the one sole subject of its denunciations. That an influential worldly system, like Popery, will have many principles of evil in common with another influential system like Antichristianism, is certain especially when the first has been for ages acting on, and morally forming, some of the leading countries out of which Antichristianism is to arise. 

Popery is no doubt a chief channel towards Antichrist. But this is no more than can be said of many other worldly systems that are cast in a different mould from Popery, and are in many things antagonistic to it, such as Mahomedanism; the Greek Churches of the East; Socinion, Neologian, and other forms of nominal Protestantism; and Judaism. Attention to one simple fact is sufficient to prove the futurity of this chapter. It describes the whole Roman world, throughout all its extent, as brought completely under one resistless despotism. Now inasmuch as neither the whole, nor a half, nor a third, nor a tenth of the Roman world is at present under the sole control of any one individual, or any one system, (for it is emphatically an hour of the division of power,) it follows that this tyrannic system of successful despotism must yet be future. 

That it cannot have appeared and waned, or passed away, is manifest from this— that the power of the beast and of the ten kingdoms who are to be with him, never wane; but, when once they have appeared, will continue in the full vigour and plenitude of power, until they shall suddenly be swept intodestruction by the glory of the coming of the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Again, one of the most remarkable and characteristic features of this chapter is, that it marks the SECULAR as taking precedence of the ECCLESIASTICAL power. The second beast, who is to direct the worship of all over whom Antichrist will rule, takes the secondary place in the presence of the mighty secular monarch on whom the ten diadems rest. Subordination to the crown, which Popery hates, will be the very principle in which the false prophet who ministers in the presence of Antichrist will glory.

Indeed if we examine the specific descriptions of chapter 13 we shall find that Popery answers to none.

I. The beast with ten horns is distinctively a secular power: Popery is distinctively ecclesiastical.

II. The beast from the moment of his appearance in this chapter on to the end of his course has his ten horns crowned with diadems but Popery has never worn the diadems of the Roman world. Even ecclesiastically it has never reigned continuously over the Western division of the Roman empire, much less over the East and West together.

III. The beast had seven heads. When did all the ruling systems, commercial, educational, religious, military, political, &c., throughout the whole prophetic earth, fall under the exclusive control of Popery, or of any other system or individual, that yet has been?

IV. The beast when it first is seen in this chapter, has all its horns crowned. How could this be said of Popery?

V. The beast when it first appeared had one of its heads already wounded. How could this be interpreted of Popery?

VI. The beast was like a leopard. The leopard was the Grecian beast. Has not Popery been distinctively Latin, and not Greek, both in origin, territory, character, and everything else that can, under this head, be mentioned as a point of contrast? The influence of Popery has been remarkably obstructed in the Eastern part of the Roman empire, where Antichrist will be chiefly dominant.

VII. The whole prophetic earth is not only subject to, but wonders after and worships the beast. When has the Pope been thus worshipped?

VIII. The beast continues forty and two months. Is this the limit of the duration of Popery?

IX. Another, and he distinctly a minister of religious power, exercises the power of the ten-horned beast in his presence. When has the Pope ever had such a minister?

X. All, except those whose names are written in the Lamb’s

book of life, consent to worship the beast. In other words, every servant of Satan throughout the whole Roman world will unite himself to Antichrist. Have there never been any wicked men who have stood aloof from Popery?

XI. An image of the beast is made, endued with life, caused to speak, and to command that whosoever would not worship it, should neither buy, nor sell, but be put to death, and this throughout the whole extent of the Roman world. Where do we find anything in the history of Popery answering even remotely to this? 

Taken from ‘Thoughts on the Apocalypse’ by B. W. Newton.

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